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Latest amenity at luxury residences: A celebrity chef
CHEF Ashley Palmer-Watts has helped Heston Blumenthal create global brands, including the Fat Duck and Dinner restaurants, over the last 20 years, and the two have now led a culinary push into an entirely new industry.
Mr Blumenthal's long-term right-hand man, Palmer-Watts, has shuttled between London and Dubai to oversee the opening of a restaurant that is at the heart of a new facet of luxury residential property development. "Linking up with a property development is a very different thing for us, but with the right quality and the right offering, this could be the start of a trend," he said.
Celebrity chefs and famous restaurants are the latest front in the endless battle to lure property buyers and renters, a competition that has moved well beyond offering amenities such as concierges, pet spas and yoga studios.
From the Canary Islands to New York City, developers have begun to use gastronomy to give their properties an edge in the market, forging relationships with culinary stars.
Those tie-ups include formal links with chefs like Wolfgang Puck and a property programme on the Spanish island of Tenerife in the Canaries that offers catering in your new home by one of Spain's most decorated chefs.
At the more innovative end of this mixture of culinary and residential marketing is 475 Clermont, an upmarket rental development in New York that has a chef living in the building to run supper clubs or communal dinners for residents of its 363 homes.
This focus on dining builds on the recent trend of giving the owners of luxury apartments access to the services of nearby hotels, some of which have their own famous restaurants.
In terms of celebrity chef firepower, the global heavy hitter will soon be the Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences in Dubai, where Mr Palmer-Watts has overseen planning for the third Dinner by Heston Blumenthal outlet, after the original in London and a failed venture in Melbourne.
When the complex opens in the last quarter of 2020, it will be the only residential complex in the world to host outlets of three chefs recognised by The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards.
Apart from Dinner, the Royal Atlantis residences and an adjoining 800-suite hotel will be home to Jaleo by José Andrés, who received the Icon Award at last year's awards, and La Mar by Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio, who collected the lifetime achievement award in 2018.
Owners of the 231 residences will be able to order room service from most of the restaurants and have discounts at those venues, plus new outlets of Hakkasan, Estiatorio Milos by Costas Spiliadis and Ariana's Persian Kitchen.
Mr Palmer-Watts said Blumenthal planned to be "very hands-on" with the Dubai project. "This is quite a unique complex they are building, so we have had to put a lot of thought into our part in it," he said. "We will get normal clients, but we are hoping to become almost like the 'local' for people living in the complex. It's going to be the sort of destination that once you are there, there is not much need to leave."
The Dubai menu will be based on the themes of the Dinner in London but with a heavier emphasis on seafood and no pork.
Timothy Kelly, managing director of the Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences, said access to so many top-flight chefs had proved a major marketing asset for the 37-storey tower, where two- to five-bedroom homes start at US$1.9 million.
"As we have been explaining the project to new buyers, it has been obvious that they are excited by having so many recognizable chefs," he said.
Fred Scarlett, sales and marketing director of London developer Clivedale, said the growing focus on culinary attractions made sense "when hotels and residential schemes are increasingly behaving like each other".
"They are converging on each other at the top of the market because of the changing lifestyles of people who are very mobile and very international," he said.
Clivedale is marketing a 27-home luxury development overlooking Hyde Park, called the Mayfair Park Residences, that will have access to the amenities and services of the Dorchester Collection hotel, 45 Park Lane. It follows similar residential partnerships by the Mandarin, Peninsula and Four Seasons hotel groups, with a Raffles-linked project now under construction in London's Whitehall district.
But a special draw of the Mayfair Park Residences is that residents will be able to order room service and have signing privileges at Cut, Wolfgang Puck's only restaurant in London. The project is to be completed this month with prices starting at £4.25 million (S$7.38 million), and units ranging from one- to four bedrooms.
Simon Garcia, director at the buying agency Quintessentially Estates, said access to in-house meals was especially attractive to international travellers because "no matter what time of day or night, it's possible to order a favourite meal, a definite perk for those regularly crossing time zones".
Alexandra Sinick is a tenant at 475 Clermont, the New York project that has started what it calls the world's first live-in chef programme.
When she first toured the 12-storey building, which ranges from studios to two-bedroom apartments, she was shown amenities including a pet spa, a bocce court and a rooftop outdoor movie screen, but it was the chef programme that caught her attention.
"I thought 'How cool!' because my husband and I are real foodies," said Ms Sinick, a 33-year-old project manager at an international communications firm. NYTIMES